The Mango Tango
By Fiona Breslin
It’s not only the wonderful taste that has earned mangoes the ranking among fans as “the king of fruit.” Bursting with nutrients, one mango contains 96% of the daily value of vitamin C, and is also rich in fiber, potassium, and cancer-fighting carotenoids including beta-carotene. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) reports that carotenoids, like vitamin C, are a good source of antioxidants so essential to a strong immune system. For a healthy daily diet, the AICR recommends three to five or more servings of fruit and vegetables. Delicious mangoes make the fruit-serving quota easy.
Mangoes are a tropical fruit, and so a relatively recent arrival in U.S. groceries. Two main types of mango are generally sold in the United States: the smaller, buttery Champagne mango, and the larger, more common Tommy Atkins variety. Because they ripen in different places at different times, mangoes are readily available year-round in the United States. The fruit found in this country’s stores typically come from Mexico, the Caribbean, South and Central America, and South Asia. Mangoes are also grown in Florida and California, though these are not widely sold commercially. Mangoes are also found in the frozen and dried food aisles. CFYL recommends checking labels to find processed fruits without added sugar, since mangos are naturally sweet enough.
You can’t tell a ripe mango by its color, so it needs to be touch tested. A ripe mango is firm with a just little give when gently pressed. You can ripen hard mangoes in a brown paper bag on the kitchen counter, if they are not quite ripe. Leave them sealed in the bag until they have the correct amount of “give.” When buying frozen mango, buy sliced. If you can’t find sliced, buy the frozen pulp. It makes great sorbet and drinks.
Mangoes have a large oval pit. To serve: cut the mango a little off center longwise through the stem-end. Repeat on the other side. The pit will be in the center slice. Without cutting through the skin, gently make a ½” cross hatch in the flesh in each half. Push the mango up from underneath on the skin-side so that the flesh pops open into a dome.